Skip to main content

Agent Advice: Jeff Kleinman of Folio Literary Management

An interview with agent Jeff Kleinman, previously of Graybill & English. A few years ago, Jeff acted as one of the founders of Folio Literary Management, LLC.

“Agent Advice” (this installment featuring agent Jeff Kleinman of Folio Literary Management) is a series of quick interviews with literary agents and script agents who talk with Guide to Literary Agents about their thoughts on writing, publishing, and just about anything else. This series has more than 170 interviews so far with reps from great literary agencies. This collection of interviews is a great place to start if you are just starting your research on literary agents.

Looking back through the 2006 edition of Guide to Literary Agents, I reread a great interview with agent Jeff Kleinman, previously of Graybill & English. A few years ago, Jeff acted as one of the founders of Folio Literary Management, LLC.

I've pasted some of that interview here below:

Image placeholder title

GLA: There are many qualities a writer must possess in order to be a successfully published author. What quality do you find most important?

JK: Besides wonderful writing and storytelling abilities, I really hope to find authors that realize all of us—the agent, editor, marketing folk, copyeditors, etc.—are all on the writer's side. We all want to create a good book, and we all want to find the next book we can fall head-over-heels-in-love with. It's that helpfulness, that willingness, that "Sure, I'll go the extra mile," that can really make a difference.

GLA: If an agent is interested in a manuscript, he'll sometimes ask for an exclusive read. What does an exclusive read mean for both the agent and the writer? Under what circumstances might an agent request an exclusive read?

JK: Agents assume, in this marketplace, the writer has simulatenously queried an unknown number of agents. That said, when some agents want to read your project, they want to be able to read it and know they're the only person reading it ... So, the first agent will ask for an exclusive read.

I think an exclusive's a fine thing, if that's what the agent needs, but the writer needs to be aware he's giving something up by giving that agent an exclsuive read—so, the agent should provide something in exchange, perhaps the assurance he will read it quickly. Think of it like a bargain: "I (the writer) am giving you (the agent) a certain time with my manuscript, and you won't have to worry about someone else competing for it. In exchange, you agree to read it quickly because other agents are also interested in reading it. What's "quickly"? It depends on the agent. I think, though, about two months for a novel and about three weeks for a proposal is fair.

GLA: What's the biggest mistake a writer can make when he submits to you?

JK: The biggest mistake is not acting professionally enough. Writers need to keep in mind as soon as they enter the publishing business that they need to treat it as a business. Treat it as a job interview. Handle your interview like a professional: be courteous, concise, helpful and provide the kind of information the guy on the other side of the desk needs to have. Desperation rarely works; your potential boss might run the other way. Discourtesy (i.e., writing" Dear Agent" or "Dear Sir/Madam") may make it seem you haven't bothered to do your homework.


Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 2.57.50 PM

The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.

Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers Conferences:

Other writing/publishing articles and links for you:

Image placeholder title

Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more. 
Order the book from WD at a discount.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Forgetting To Read

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Forgetting To Read

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's mistake is forgetting to read.

Tapping Your Memories for Emotional Truths on the Page

Tapping Your Memories for Emotional Truths on the Page

Sharing even a fraction of our feelings with our characters will help our stories feel more authentic. Here, Kris Spisak explains how to tap into our memories to tell emotional truths on the page.

Poetic Forms

Trinet: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the trinet, a seven-line form based on word count.

Tammye Huf: On Real Love That Sparked Inspiration

Tammye Huf: On Real Love That Sparked Inspiration

Debut novelist Tammye Huf discusses how her own familial love story inspired her historical fiction novel, A More Perfect Union.

Announcing the Second Annual Personal Essay Awards Winners

Announcing the Second Annual Personal Essay Awards Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the second annual Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards!

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Going Rogue

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Going Rogue

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character go rogue.

How to Love Writing a Book

How to Love Writing a Book

When you’re in the weeds of the writing process, it’s easy to lose sight of why you started in the first place. Here, author Radhika Sanghani shares her tips on how to love the process of writing your book.

How Daily Meditation Can Lead to New Stories

How Daily Meditation Can Lead to New Stories

In seeking meaning did author Randal Maurice Jelks also find purpose and understanding. Here, he shares how daily meditation can lead to new stories.

5 Tips for Writing a Domestic Thriller

5 Tips for Writing a Domestic Thriller

Author Leah Konen offers 5 tips to help keep the goosebumps coming in your domestic thriller—from focusing on a small cast of characters to allowing yourself to be surprised in the process, and more!